Sunday, October 14

Snowflakes for Robert's Snow: "Snow Day!" by Barbara Lehman

Peering out their early morning window the children smile, quietly enjoying the moment of realization of the snow day before them.

Looking through our Internet widows today we see another snow day is upon us, with many more to follow in the coming weeks, as bloggers from all walks of children's literature begin featuring Snowflakes for Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure. From now through early December bloggers are showcasing the contributions by individual children's book artists, each a decorated wooden snowflake to be auctioned off in coming weeks to benefit sarcoma research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Today I'm featuring "Snow Day!" by Barbara Lehman

Those familiar with The Red Book, Museum Trip and her most recent book Rainstorm probably don't need an introduction to Lehman's work. Beginning three years ago with the release of The Red Book Lehman joined an elite subgroup within the world of picture books, namely the increasingly popular wordless picture book. In each of her books she explores the relationship with place and perspective, inside and outside, the viewer and the viewed.

The Red Book
follows two parallel narratives, one with a boy another with a girl, who despite different locales appear to be aware of one another, as if each were part of the other's daydream. Museum Trip takes a field trip straggler deep into the museum exhibits themselves, offering up the prospect that an open and inquisitive mind can not only visit the past but affect the future. Rainstorm literally sends a bored boy on a journey of discovery through a secret tunnel to an island where children are playing in the sun, the mythic "there" longed for when housebound. In all her books Lehman works her own magic with clean outlined drawings and a bold color palate taking inspiration from the ligne claire style of Herge's Tintin.

In her snowflake Lehman continues her fascination with the inside-outside world by providing us both sides of the window into the heart of the snow day from the heart of the snowflake. Outside the snow falls silently, and silently witnessed from within; Flip the snowflake and we're instantly inside, bathed in the warm yellow of home, the smell of hot cocoa as sure as the coziness of the small cat coiled at the children's feet. One event, many perspectives, the art of Barbara Lehman at its best.

"Snow Day!" is but one of many artist-created snowflakes being auctioned off as part of Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure. The event was created to help raise funds when children's book author Grace Lin's husband Robert Mercer was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a cancer of the bone, and was told that his best chance for long-term survival was a breakthrough in cancer research. Robert and Grace established the fundraising auction in 2004 which has since become an annual event raising more than $200,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. A more complete history, with other information about Robert's Snow can be found by following the links.

For information about the online auction itself, including instructions for when and how to bid, click here. You'll notice that the auction is actually broken up into three separate auctions, and that artists snowflakes are continually being added. Barbara Lehman's "Snow Day!" is part of the third auction taking place December 3 through December 7.

As I mentioned, many in the kidlit blogosphere have gotten together to help spread the word about this event. All of us have volunteered to highlight different artists snowflakes on different days leading up to the auctions themselves. For a schedule of the current week's featured artists please check out the links in the sidebar.

This massive undertaking has been done in coordination with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and was the brainchild of Jules and Eisha, the dynamic duo who blog under the collective title of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. I cannot underscore how monumental this task has been, wrangling bloggers probably akin to herding feral cats and catching greased pigs at the same time. Here's a list of today's artists and bloggers helping spread the word. Go ahead and give them a gander if you haven't already.

ChatRabbit talks with Randy Cecil
The Longstockings are up with Michelle Chang
Cynthia Lord has a contest concerning Kevin Hawkes
and over at In the Pages you can enter a drawing to win a copy of Lissey's Friends signed by Grace Lin!

Go on, now, scoot!


Anonymous said...

David, this is great. Thanks so much for participating. I love the feral cats and greased pigs line. It wasn't that barn-yard-like, though. Heh.

For the record, bloggers will only be showcasing up until the day before the auction, but the auction itself continues into early December.

I loved reading this. So well-written. And her snowflake is wonderful.


Anonymous said...

A lovely snowflake and a wonderful description of it, too! I missed the cat until you pointed it out.

Anonymous said...

Love the open window. Thanks for highlighting this -- it's delightful!

Mary Beth said...

One of the things I'm looking forward to with these blogs is learning more about illustrators I don't know, such as Barbara Lehman. I have to go find her books NOW, especially the one about the museum! Great blog!

Sara said...

Beautifully described, David. I loved the snowflake before you gave the background about her art, but now I love it even more. I'm interested to see how other illustrators handle the flip side of their snowflakes.

gail said...

This snowflake is a perfect example of her work. I love the way it makes you think!

Thanks for the interview!

Elaine Magliaro said...


Thanks for this post about Barbara Lehman. I'm a real admirer of her picture book art. Unfortunately, I was outbid on her 2005 snowflake.

Vivian Mahoney said...

Thanks for highlighting Barbara's work and snowflake. Lovely.

Beckyb said...

What a great post - yes, she does always make you think!!